American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Weather, Inexperience, Alaska, Moose's Tooth, Ham and Eggs

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2010

FALL ON ROCK, WEATHER, INEXPERIENCE

Alaska, Moose's Tooth, Ham and Eggs

On May 11, a climber fell about 60 feet while climbing the “Ham and Eggs” route on the Moose’s Tooth. He sustained tibia/fibula fractures, with ankle and metatarsal dislocations of his left leg and foot. Other climbers on the route and in the area organized his rescue and evacuation. Once lowered, he was flown out the same day to Talkeetna where he was evaluated by an NPS Ranger before going to the hospital.

The following edited report was filed at the Talkeetna Ranger Station by one of the climbers that took charge of the accident on May 20.

“On May 11, we set off to climb Ham and Eggs at 4:00 a.m. One party was ahead of us. As we progressed up the couloir, on the third pitch the wind picked up and spindrift started pouring down the route like a fire hose. My partner led the third pitch. We were surprised by the rotten quality of the ice, but she was able to place multiple pieces of protection, including rock pro. I led up the fourth pitch, pulling the bulge with the heavy spindrift coming down, thinking, ‘If this gets worse, we will retreat.’ Just then my partner mentioned the party below us had an accident. I brought her up and we decided to retreat due to the conditions and also because I am a nurse and we knew there was a bad accident below. Upon rapping, I came upon the injured climber prusiking up the route with one leg. His climbing partner was in shock and not doing much, so I decided to take control of the situation. I set up a rap-assisted web system [buddy rappel] while I rapped with a prusik backup and an overhead belay backup. With help from the party above us that also had retreated due to the weather conditions, we all worked down four rappels to the ground. Other climbers on the ground brought a sled over to lower him down to the snowfield.”

Analysis

The climber commented that the weather and inexperience contributed to this incident. She also indicated that she thought the ice was not worth placing a screw, whereas her partner did get multiple pieces of rock and ice pro in.

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